Friday, December 29, 2006

Barry Zito, the Final Domino, Falls to the Giants

Is it just me, or did it seem to anyone else that the primary reason for the many bold moves in free agency this year, with cash being thrown at players like it was monopoly money, were to serve the purposes of Barry Zito?

Zito, the big free agent prize this year on the pitching side, is the last big name to sign this off-season, and it seemed like with every pitcher that signed a big contract, all you heard was that this would drive up the price for Zito. So Barry should thank Jeff Suppan, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and especially Gil Meche, for driving up his price tag to the $126 million mark that the Giants signed him to yesterday. Because of course, they weren't signing for their own good, they were just doing it to get Zito a big payday.

Of course I'm kidding, but a few things did pop out at me with this signing:

1. When the Royals can sign Gil Meche to a $55 million contract, it's clear that players no longer have to go to one of the New York teams to get a fat payday. To me, this was made abundantly clear with the Zito signing - if any player was destined for New York, be it with the Mets or the Yankees, it was him. But as it turned out, he could and did get his money somewhere else, San Francisco. It seems the off-season bidding wars are getting more competitive.

2. The Yanks' failure to get Zito may hasten their pursuit of Roger Clemens. The writing seems to be on the wall for fading star Randy Johnson in the Bronx, and New York will likely look to fill the hole in their rotation with Clemens with the failure to land Zito. The Red Sox, who are thought of as the other major player in the Clemens sweepstakes, do not have the need for him that the Yankees do with their signing of Matsuzaka, and may not push for him as hard as the Yankees will.

3. The NL West might have the best collection of starters of any division in baseball. Here are the presumed top 1-3 starters for the NL West teams excepting the Rockies:

Brandon Webb
Livan Hernandez
Doug Davis

Los Angeles:
Jason Schmidt
Brad Penny
Derek Lowe

San Diego:
Jake Peavy
Chris Young
Greg Maddux

San Francisco:
Barry Zito
Matt Morris
Matt Cain

That's an impressive group - should mean a good race in that division next season.

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